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Why was the Rowlatt Act Passed?

Updated on 13 July 2021
UPSC & State PSC 2021
9 min read 145 views
Updated on 13 July 2021

The Rowlatt Act, also known as the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act 1919 was imposed by the British government. This act was passed by the imperative legislative council in March 1919 under the recommendation of the Rowlatt Committee which was chaired by Sir Sydney Rowlatt. 

The Rowlatt Act was imposed by the British government to take full political power and control over India. According to this act, the British government would have the authority to arrest anyone immediately who has been suspected of terrorist activities. Also, they could detain the suspect and arrest them for 2 years without any trial. The police officials were also given the right to search any place without a warrant. 

The main agenda behind establishing this act was to stop the growing nationalist movement in the country. Hence, people from all over the country were opposed to this act and so to enforce the British government to abolish this act, Mahatma Gandhi conducted a worldwide protest. This protest, also known as the Rowlatt satyagraha was called on 6th April 1919. 

The protest was supported by all the common masses and it was supposed to be conducted peacefully. Note that, under this protest, two main congress leaders named Satya pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew were arrested by the British government. In response to this, a worse turn of events took place where the protest took a violent turn in Chauri Chaura (a place in Uttar Pradesh) where an angry mob protesting in the Rowlatt Satyagraha set the local police station on fire and killed policemen. 

As the events took a worse turn, the British government declared martial law in Punjab where the gathering of more than 4 people was banned. In response to this series of events, the world witnessed an extremely unfortunate and inhuman incident named the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which was an outcome of the Rowlatt act. 


The Rowlatt Act was imposed by the British officials and was named after Sir Sydney Rowlatt who was the chairperson of the Rowlatt Committee. This act brought many restrictions on the common masses and hence led to a worldwide peaceful protest which later took a violent turn. The Rowlatt Act was called out by Gandhiji soon after the Chauri Chaura incident where the protest got out of control. 

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